PPL’s Scientist in Residence: Robert Vanderbei


As part of our summer reading program, “A Universe of Stories,” Robert Vanderbei is the library’s Scientist in Residence. Professionally, Vanderbei  is a professor in the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering at Princeton University. He previously worked at Bell Labs.

Courtesy Robert Vanderbei

Personally, Vanderbei has been interested in astronomy and the universe since he was a child. As an adult, he bought a telescope to explore the night sky. According to Vanderbei, “in 2003 I bought myself a digital camera designed for taking long exposure astrophotographs and I began imaging the universe. The star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies that I’ve been able to image from my backyard are stunningly beautiful and it’s been extremely interesting learning about these objects . . . what they are, how big and how far away they are, and how they came to be. It is all very interesting and truly humbling.”

Take a walk around the library’s second floor to explore some of the stunning images captured by Vanderbei in the exhibit “Our Universe – from Here to Infinity.” This display highlights his long-exposure astrophotographs and is on view until Sept. 6.

To meet Vanderbei at the library or offsite, check out these upcoming events:

In a new program for PPL, join us for Stargazing at Mountain Lakes House on Wednesday, Aug. 7 from 7:30-10 p.m. Come wonder at the night sky and learn about what you’re seeing (with the naked eye and with telescopes) from astronomers who will be on hand to point out celestial objects. While you’re there, enjoy a nighttime nature walk and learn about the sounds of the night. All ages welcome!

And on Wednesday, Aug. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the library’s Community Room, watch and discuss “Brian Cox: Life of a Universe.

Attending one of these events counts as a Summer Reading program, qualifying adults to be entered into the adult summer reading program’s second prize drawing. If you haven’t signed up for summer reading yet, find more info here:


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